During my earlier years, my time was consumed with working two jobs, being active in church and community, and sharing with my wife the raising of our seven children. It all left precious little time for reflective thinking. Oh, our family prayer life was not neglected at meals and at the end of the day. Nevertheless, truly quiet time was lacking.
Moving into retirement offered the prospect of slowing down, but, much to our surprise, that season kept us in “doing mode.” We traveled; I was a Bible teacher and led worship through lay pulpit supply during the summers. We were also active in hospital and nursing home visitation. My wife and I visited our children, took care of two homes, and added daily morning and evening devotional times together, but still, our active lives left little time for reflective thinking.
Almost six years ago we moved to Florida Presbyterian Homes and shortly thereafter found that health issues prevented us from doing as much as we did before. Prayer time grew as we spent with thanksgiving, praise, worship and requests for forgiveness, strength, patience, etc. for my wife, others and me.
A few years went by until recently we were introduced to Centering Prayer. First, I learned the value of and gained the ability to sit quietly — to be silent — to listen — not talk — to hear God speaking. I was able to experience God’s expression of how much he loved me and to fully put my trust in him. I learned of the unconditional love that God has for me and for the first time, I understood the depth of that love for me and that I was to have that love for others. I realized that God would give me all I needed to be the care partner my wife needed.
I am still in the process of learning and grateful that during my retirement, I have found the time that is needed to pray to God in a different way. My only regret is that I didn’t learn earlier to be still and listen for God.
EARLE ROBERTS is a ruling elder in Winter Haven, Fla., Presbyterian Church. He has been a pulpit supply, police officer and chief of police in Battle Creek, Mich., and developed the department of criminal justice at Kent State University.